SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)
Schools in Monterey County are taking safety preparations and finalizing safety plans for students and staff for the possible return of in-person learning of grades K-6 now that COVID-19 case numbers are slowed enough to meet state standards for reopening.
Alisal Union School District Superintendent Jim Koenig says they have been preparing for quite some time and is excited about possibly bringing students back.
“They’re going to learn more in school in person, there’s just so many things, so many emotional facets of going to school that the kids need in order to be healthy that we just need to get them back in school," says Koenig.
Superintendent Koenig says there is a varied response form parents...some who say they are ready to bring their children back into the classroom while others say they are not comfortable just yet.
“The kids are safer at school than anywhere else, the infections are taking place in social events outside of school," says Koenig.
Approval for the return of in-person learning must come from the state and the county first.
Schools are required to submit a health and safety plan and have it reviewed by the county for state approval.
At Bardin Elementary School in Salinas, classrooms have already been set up with social distance markers on the ground, face mask signage and plexiglass shields on desks spaced apart.
Koenig says classrooms at Alisal Union School District are also taking similar steps to meet California Public Health requirements and are prepared with items like face masks and sanitizers.
At Alisal, Koenig says double masks will be required for students and staff, meaning: one paper mask underneath and a cloth mask placed on top for added protection.
At Bardin, ventilators and air purifiers have been placed in classrooms, but Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Daneen Guss explains not all schools will be able to have a one-size-fits-all safety plan.
“If it’s an older school, they may not have the ventilation systems in place, they may not even be able to open the windows in some of those classrooms in those really older schools," says Guss.
Guss says there is a possibility some schools will move classes to larger spaces like libraries or gymnasiums.
Distance learning will still be available, but Koenig says this could be a challenge for staff trying to keep up with both in-person and online classes.
“We do have additional intervention teachers that are on hand but that is going to be a difficult part of opening," says Koenig.
Spokesperson Claudia Melendez with Alisal Union School District says the district is meeting with stakeholders on Wednesday and then meeting with county Trustees later this month for ultimate approval.